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Thursday, 16 July 2020

DIY Kawaii Plant Labels for the Veggie Patch

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cricut. All opinions are 100% mine.

One of the things I've been most excited about having our own house is being able to plant a veggie patch again.

You may remember that we had a plot in our local community garden when we lived in Berkeley, but as great as that was, there's nothing quite like having fresh veggies, herbs and fruit growing right outside your back door. Walking out the back door to pick herbs for a last minute addition to dinner is convenient. Walking to the park at night to do the same; not so much. So finally having our own garden space, in our yard, was a dream come true.

By the time we were settled into our new house last year it was too late in the season to start growing a veggie patch, so we had to wait until Spring rolled around to start our garden. And by Spring, I mean mid-May as it's not uncommon for it to snow here up until early May! While we waited for consistently warm days to arrive to get planting, I got to work building garden beds, filling them with soil, paving between the beds with pebbles and working on our compost bin.

I also got to work thinking about all the little finishing touches, like plant labels. Sure, I could've just stuck with the labels that came with each of my seedling plants, but why do that when you can make something cute? The kids LOVE everything Kawaii at the moment, so I had the idea of making cutesy Kawaii plant labels. Little fruits and veggies with happy little faces smiling up at me from the veggie patch. A little touch to make the veggie garden an even happier place.

Aren't they cute?

Making my kawaii plant labels was a breeze thanks to my handy little Cricut Joy. First I designed the various fruits and veggies in Photoshop (that was the hardest part) and then I cut them out on permanent Smart Vinyl with my Cricut Joy before sticking them onto bamboo plant labels. Easy peasy!

With no need for a cutting mat, Cricut Smart Vinyl is such an easy to use product for projects like this. No need to line it up perfectly on a cutting mat. Just load the Smart Vinyl into the Cricut Joy and you're done! The Smart Vinyl used here adheres permanently and is water proof making it perfect for use in the garden.

If you'd like to make your own kawaii plant labels follow the simple instructions below. I've made it even easier for you by sharing my designs on the Cricut Design Space, so you won't need to spend time designing them.

Here's what you'll need:
Cricut Joy
Cricut Smart Vinyl Permanent in black
Bamboo Plant labels
Cricut Weeding Tools
My Kawaii Plant Label Designs (click here)

Step 1.
Click the link for my Kawaii Plant Label Design above. This will take you through to a new project in the Cricut Design Space. If you'd like to cut the same fruits and vegetables that I used, simply click "Make it" and skip ahead to Step 2. If you'd like to pick and choose from my designs, or cut multiple of the same design, click "Customize". This will take you to the canvas. Here you can change the individual design sizes if needed, delete the designs you don't need, or add extras of any design you need more of. Once you're done click "Make it".

Step 2.
A pop up screen will ask "How will you load all of your materials for this project?". Select "Without Mat" from the list of options and click "Done".

Step 3.
A review page will open up showing the design and the cut details. On the left hand side it will show you how much Smart Vinyl you will need for the cut. Cut a piece of Smart Vinyl to this length. Click "Continue" once you are ready to cut.

Step 4.
The next page will ask you to choose your material. Select "Smart Vinyl" from the list.

Step 5.
Load your piece of Smart Vinyl into your Cricut Joy and click "Go" on the screen. The machine will now cut your design.

Step 6.
Once the design has been cut, remove the excess vinyl from the sheet. You'll be left with the shapes of the fruits and vegetables.

Step 7.
Using your weeding tool and tweezers, carefully remove the kawaii fruits and vegetable designs from the sheet and place them on the bamboo plant labels. As the designs are quite small this will be a little fiddly, so make sure you have good light and work carefully. Take extra care with the small pieces such as eyes and smile. Because the designs are fairly small you should be able to smooth them down easily with your finger, but if you need a little help making them smooth, the scraper tool comes in handy.

Now, I originally designed these to just be the outlines, however when I removed the outlines from the Smart Vinyl sheet, I realized that the shapes left by the negative space were pretty cute too. This also meant that for each design I got two plant labels. Two for one!

Once your designs have been placed on the bamboo plant labels, the only thing left to do is stick them in your garden! Look at those little smiley faces!

Aren't these just the happiest little plant labels? They make me smile when I see them in my garden. I'm really pleased with how they turned out and it was such an easy project thanks to my Cricut Joy. 

I'll be making more designs and updating my project in the Cricut Design Space as we plant more fruits and veggies throughout the year, so make sure to stay tuned for more little smiles!

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Sunday, 5 July 2020

Our Trip to Yellowstone National Park

Last weekend we packed our bags, loaded up our car, and did something we haven't done in an awfully long time. We went on vacation!

Like most of you we've been at home since early March, pretty much only venturing out to the supermarket or for walks around the neighborhood (and more recently a few mask clad trips to Denver Zoo and a Denver Selfie Museum which reopened with strict social distancing rules). 

We've missed a few planned trips in those months including Spring Break in Chicago, Ava's school trip to Washington DC (I'm most bummed about that one), and smaller weekend getaways that we'd planned here in Colorado before the weather warmed up too much. I had pretty much written off Summer when it came to travel, but then I saw that local friends had visited Yellowstone National Park a few weeks back and it was pretty much empty. I knew that the opportunity to visit one of our bucket list destinations without the crowds was probably not going to come up again any time soon, so right away I got online and booked a hotel. I can't tell you how excited I was making that booking after so long!

Now that we're in Colorado, Wyoming is just over an hour away from our home but we had been yet to head north across the border. Yellowstone National Park is located at the very top of the state, but at around an eight hour drive, it's an easy destination for a road trip from Boulder (or Denver). It's also an easy drive from cities in neighboring states including Idaho, Utah, Washington, Montana and Nebraska. When looking at the map I realized that my friend Lindsey, who lives in Spokane, Washington, was a similar distance away making Yellowstone the perfect meeting point for a catch up. A little last minute planning, and both our families were booked in for a trip to Wyoming!
Last Saturday we hit the road and headed to the idyllic mountain town of Jackson, where we based ourselves for our visit to Yellowstone National Park. Jackson is located about an hour away from the south entry of Yellowstone. It's a handy spot to use as a base, especially now while the hotels inside the national park are closed due to COVID. 

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Our Visit to Denver Selfie Museum

Things are slowly opening up again here in Colorado which means that we've been able to get out and about a little - with masks and social distancing, of course.

Most attractions that have opened up again are mostly outside locations (National Parks, Denver Zoo, Denver Botanic Gardens...) but a few indoor locations have opened up with strict social distancing rules in place.

One such place that has opened and we visited recently was the Denver Selfie Museum.

Ok, I know... a selfie museum? It sounds a little, well, self indulgent and egotistical, but hear me out. Yes, the Denver Selfie Museum is a great place to take fun selfies (or pics of your kids in my case), but it's also a fun place to see some really cool immersive art. 

If you've been following Little Hiccups for a while you'll know that I'm a big fan of immersive art experiences, and the Denver Selfie Museum fits this description perfectly. It's smaller than Museum of Ice Cream, Color Factory, Camp Christmas, LMNL and other similar museums we've visited in the past, but that was part of the charm to me. We were able to see all of the displays in just over an hour making it a short, but sweet outing.

Now, you're probably wondering just how we managed to visit a museum while social distancing. Like most immersive art experiences, entry is only by timed ticket. With social distancing measures in place, only a small number of guests were allowed in at a time. It just so happened that visiting on a week day, we had the entire place to ourselves for much of our visit. When other guests did arrive we made sure to keep our distance and wore our masks when required. As an extra precaution, some of the hands on experiences were off limits. For example, the ball pit (which the kids were looking forward to) was understandably closed, and there were a few props that we were asked not to touch.

Ok, enough talking, let's look at some pictures...

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Found! The Perfect Shoes for Backyard Adventures

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Critts

We're lucky to have quite a large backyard at our house here in Colorado, especially while we're all at home all day at the moment. The space we have means we've been able to put in lots of fun things for the kids including swings, a climbing structure and a trampoline. We've also been able to plant a veggie garden at home for the first time in almost a decade. 

Lola on swing
Lola in veggie garden
But, while our yard has plenty of room for all these things, there's one thing that's not so fun about it: the hard and lumpy ground! Our grass might look lush and green, but the clay soil underneath it is so hard and lumpy that it rather hurts to walk on without shoes. The landscaped areas of our yard aren't much better with either river rocks (which aren't all smooth), sharp and scratchy bark, or thick ground covering conifer plants. Heading out into the backyard to play or do a little gardening always means grabbing a pair of shoes first.

Now, putting on a pair of shoes to walk out to the trampoline or swings wouldn't be too much of a problem if my kids wore flip flops or some other sort of easy to slide on shoes that we could keep by the back door. Nope, not my kids! Neither Lola or Mathilde will wear flip flops, even for just walking out to the trampoline. They want to wear something covered which means they always end up wearing their regular shoes - and that means putting socks on first too because they refuse to wear shoes without socks. 

When it comes to slip on options for my kids, I hadn't had much luck finding anything that worked for them. Crocs seem like a good idea, but they're incredibly wide and never stay on. I usually wear clogs when I go out into the backyard, but the hard soles aren't so comfy for little feet. Plus my kids usually struggle to keep their feet in clog-like shoes unless there's a back - and then they want socks. 

I finally found a solution when I came across Critts.  

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Visiting Boulder's Iris Farm

The first official week of Summer Break and we had our first official outing of the season - and our first time out exploring in god only knows how long!

Now that the weather has warmed up, things are looking very much like Spring (or Summer) here in the Boulder Valley. Trees that were bare just a month ago are green, lawns and grass areas are lush, and every second garden in our neighborhood is filled with colorful flowers. The two most common flowers here seem to be irises in a range of colors, and vivid orange poppies. And when I say these flowers are common, I mean they are everywhere.

I've never lived in a place where everyone seems to plant the same flowers in their garden so it got me wondering about just why these two flowers are everywhere. Sure, they're pretty, but there are lots of other pretty flowers out there too. They obviously grow well here, but that still wasn't really the answer I was looking for. After digging a little deeper I learned about Boulder's history with irises and a small flower farm right in the city.

Long's Gardens is a small flower farm located on Broadway in a neighborhood full of houses, recreation centers and parks. Not really where you'd expect to find a farm, but it has been there ever since 1905. For much of that time Long's Gardens has been growing a variety of irises, providing beautiful blooming plants to the Boulder Valley.

Long's Gardens is a private property, but they open their farm up to the public during the flowering season, from April to June. Most years, they offer "u-dig" sales during this time, with customers able to choose their own iris plants from the field, dig them up to purchase, and grow them at home. Kind of like the flower equivalent of apple picking! This year, due to COVID, Long's Gardens is not offering their "u-dig" or direct sales from their office. Their iris fields are still open to the public for viewing only, and that's what we did yesterday.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Four Days in Austin, Texas


Don't they feel like such a long time away now that we've been sheltering at home for almost two months? Instead of pining for the missed vacations that we were supposed to take during this time (a family trip to Chicago, weekend trips around Colorado, and a school trip to Washington DC for Ava) I've decided to take a look back at some of our past vacations and share them here on the blog. As inspiration for when we can start travelling again - and also because I've been meaning to share them for such a long time!

Today I'm starting with a trip that was exactly one year ago. This time last year we were on vacation in Austin, Texas. It was our first visit to Texas and we had a blast. Austin is a great city to visit with or without kids. There are sprawling parks, stunning architecture, plenty of interesting wildlife, lots of great shops and restaurants, interesting historical sites, natural wonders, and my favorite, lots of street art. You know I'm a sucker for a good mural! Sure, it was hot, humid and there were bugs and pollen everywhere, but Austin's charm and quirkiness made up for that. Well, for four days. I'm not sure I could handle the weather much longer than that!

I'll be sharing some more detailed posts about the places we visited, but for now, here's a look at our four days in Austin...

Last April I attended the Mom 2.0 conference in Austin. Seeing as it was a city (and state) we were yet to visit we decided to tack a family vacation onto the end of the conference. Kim and the girls flew to join me on the Friday evening and we made an extra long weekend out of it, flying home the following Tuesday evening.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Pikachu Marshmallows

At Mathilde's little Pokémon birthday party last weekend we made Pikachu marshmallows. They're super easy to make, taste yummy, and the kids really enjoyed making them. 

I had originally planned to make the Pikachu marshmallows in advance to serve up as a party food (as I had done for Ava's Pokémon themed 10th birthday party years ago) but then I figured that seeing as we were at home with access to a kitchen, it would be fun to make them as a party activity. And I was right! It was fun!

These little Pikachus are super simple to make and only need a few ingredients.

Here's how we made them...
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